OTEPAA, Est.—Devon Kershaw captured his first World Cup medal of the season after winning the bronze on one of the most punishing cross-country ski courses on the globe in Otepaa, Estonia on Sunday.
In his first weekend of racing since finishing a remarkable fourth in the grueling nine-stage Tour de Ski that tests the best all-round skier, the two-time Olympian from Sudbury, Ont., returned to the start line to take on the top country skiers where he finished third with an impressive time of 40 minutes, 37.6 seconds (40:37.6).
“I went out really hard today. I went for the win and I don’t regret it,” said Kershaw. “It has been a hard couple of weeks for me personally and I didn’t know what to expect coming off the Tour. Today I was able to mentally switch off the brain and focus on skiing which felt amazing.”
Kershaw came close to grabbing more than bronze in Estonian hills. He finished 25 seconds behind Tour de Ski winner Dario Cologna, of Switzerland, who won the gold with a time of 40:12.4, and 1.2 seconds behind Lukas Bauer, of the Czech Republic, in second (40:36.4).
Coined one of Canada’s Nordic Knights by cross-country ski commentator Scott Russell following his World Championship gold-medal breakthrough with teammate AlexHarvey, Kershaw has excelled on some of the most difficult and challenging environments throughout his career.
“The climbs out here hare are relentless and punishing. They are so long which we don’t normally ski,” said Kershaw. “The Estonians know how to set up a course to ensure the strongest man wins.”
The bronze medal is the eighth World Cup podium of Kershaw’s career, which includes one gold making him the third Canadian male ever to win a World Cup race. Kershaw added another chapter to the cross-country skiing history books last year with his 2011 World Championship title. The coulourful Canuck has also had his share of fourth-place finishes at major events including the Olympics throughout his career.
“Finishing fourth has been tough to take and it was at the Tour. It is heartbreaking, but that is the thing about cross-country skiing – there is always more,” said Kershaw. “The biggest factor for me is I’m now feeling much stronger and more comfortable every race because of the people I’m surrounded by on our team. We have had an athlete in the top-five at every World Cup stop this year, which I think is a credit to the athletes we have on this team, and the support from our wax techs and coaches. Mentally it is so good for me.”
Alex Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., who was fourth on Saturday, finished 1110th (41:36.6), while Toronto’s Len Valjas was 31st (42:42.4).
Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., was the top Canadian in the women’s 10-kilometre classic-ski race with a time of 32:22.6. Daria Gaiazova, of Banff, Alta., placed 35th at 32:51.4, while Chandra Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., was 51st(34:11.5).
Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk finished on top with a time of 2110:44.8. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen skied to the silver at 30:06.7, while Norway’s Therese Johaug clocked a bronze-medal time of 30:25.3.
Cross Country Canada is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 55,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, Teck Resources Ltd., Canadian Pacific, and Statoil – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Own the Podium, Cross Country Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on Cross Country Canada, please visit us at www.cccski.com
Complete World Cup Results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=CC&event_id=30407
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Dario Cologna, SUI, 40:12.4; 2. Lukas Bauer, CZE, 40:36.4; 3. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 40:37.6; 4. Stanislav Volzhentsev, RUS, 40:53.7; 5. Petr Sedov, RUS, 40:54.6
Other Canadian Results:
1110. Alex Harvey, St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., 41:36.6; 31. Len Valjas, Toronto, 42:42.4.
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Justyna Kowalczyk, POL, 2110:44.8; 2. Marit Bjoergen, NOR, 20:06.7; 3. Therese Johaug, NOR, 30:25.3; 4. Charlotte Kalla, SWE, 30:43.5; 5. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, NOR, 30:47.2
30. Perianne Jones, Almonte, Ont., 32:22.6; 35. Daria Gaiazova, Banff, Alta., 32:51.4; 51. Chandra Crawford, Canmore, Alta., 34:11.5.